Garmin debuts an ECG app, but it's only available on one smartwatch

You'll have to wait if you want to check your heart rhythm on other watches.


Garmin hasn't yet had a dedicated electrocardiogram (ECG) app despite the health focus of its wearables, but it's filling that gap today. The company has introduced a simply-titled ECG App that, like equivalents on other devices, can study your heart rhythm and look for atrial fibrillation (aka AFib). If there are signs of trouble, you can sync your results with Garmin Connect and create a report you can share with healthcare providers.

You will have to be fussy about your choice of devices to use this software right away. Garmin is currently offering the app only to Venu 2 Plus owners in the US. They'll need to update both their firmware and the Connect app. The company plans to add support for more devices and countries over time, but that will require further government approvals. Don't expect your running watch to get an ECG app for a while.

This is the first app Garmin has cleared with the US Food and Drug Administration. As with similar apps, it's not meant to be a definitive verdict on your heart health and won't detect cardiac arrest. Your watch only offers functionality comparable to a single-lead ECG — your doctor can use a multi-lead system that will present a more accurate picture of your condition. Garmin VP Dan Bartel notes that this app is mainly helpful for spotting AFib in the early stages, when it's "difficult to detect" at a clinic.

There are plenty of alternatives if ECG is a must-have feature. Apple, Google (including Fitbit), Samsung, Withings and others have had the technology in their watches for a while. It's difficult to complain about having more choices, though, and this may be appealing if you prefer Garmin's overall fitness and health tracking capabilities.

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